Day 4 Production Blog


Day 4

"...This morning my brain wakes up but my body refuses to. I have a temporary lapse of sanity where I decide to not go to set this morning and sleep instead..."

This morning my brain wakes up but my body refuses to. I have a temporary lapse of sanity where I decide to not go to set this morning and sleep instead. I'm just too tired. My body makes its argument: no sleep, finger sprained and swollen, three fingernails don't want to stay in place, and no food. Shit I forgot to eat this week!! My brain begs my body like Han Solo begs his Falcon, "C'mon baby, hold together!" (Star Wars reference #3). I drag myself out of bed and drive to set. I stop by at a coffee shop and get a large coffee with a shot of espresso. GornFX arrives on set. These guys are wicked cool and I find myself re-energized. I've heard that FX work can take a long time and can slow the day, so I structure my shot list so that an actor can go get prepped for FX work while I move on to other shots that don't need them. We light for the scene where the FX will be, but move to another scene in another location so the FX guys can work there. We have 3 FX scenes today. Main character, Lee (played by Ollie), gets his eye socket crushed in, a bodyguard gets shot a bunch of times then gets his head blown off, and Chavez gets his arm torn off.

We fire off a bunch of shots with Lee before his eye gets crushed then send him over to GornFX. One of these scenes is with a female character, Willie, played by Brianna. It's the final scene of the film. Brianna shines through and despite my frozen body and fingers, I feel warm and fuzzy inside! That shot's in the film!

Ollie runs off for fx work while I move on with Warnock, the badass soldier played by Joe. This is a scene where Warnock's elbow has been broken backwards. Despite this, Warnock tapes his weapon into his hand, so he can still shoot. We bandage the elbow up and tape up the arm. I call over Ken, half of the GornFX team to see if he can supply some fake blood for the elbow. At first I'm worried they'll say no cuz it's not an effect we went over beforehand in pre-production. I'm happily wrong when Ken gets all excited about "out-of-kit" effects work. I learn the term refers to last minute effects work that's requested on-set day-of. It requires creativity, quick thinking, and Ken loves it. I love it too! Ken rigs the arm sleeve with tubing and pumps blood with a syringe through it. We time it so that each time Warnock fires his weapon, a spurt of blood comes out the elbow. The effect is AWESOME and Joe loves it as much as I do. I pick an elevated high angle that shows the spurt of blood hitting the ground creating a puddle of blood by Warnock's boot. Joe looks sweet. That shot is in the film!

We run over the bodyguard scene where Dave's been rigged with tubing and blood. Instead of squibs which require a licensed pyrotechnician, GornFX will use syringes filled with blood to spray at designated times. We take a 15 minutes to coordinate the gunshots with Dave's body movements so that it looks like he's really shot. The whole cast and crew comes over to watch this effect, which gets Dave a bit nervous. He's not an actor so it's a lot of pressure on him. We work through it and the take looks great! I decide to move on to the next shot. Oh but wait, Armando, our behind-the-scenes documentary filmmaker also filmed the take a different angle and when he plays back his footage, his angle is better. I decide that instead of 3 shots, our bodyguard should get hit 6 times. So we refill his blood tubes and have Patryk (DP) change angles. This take comes out great too! Despite being a bit behind, I decide to milk the scene and do more bullet hits with Dave convulsing and coughing up blood and stuff.

We finally move on to the scene where Chavez blows the bodyguard's head off. We take Dave's costume and dress the dummy with it. It looks so cool. Ingrid, the other half of GornFX, decorates the floor and dummy head with oatmeal and bananas mixed with blood to create brain splatter. Chavez's character is finally wrapped - except for his death scene! Anthony, report for FX work!

Move, move, move! Ollie's done with his crushed eye effect and back on set, so we run over and burn through more shots with Lee after his eye's been caved in. We film the climax of the film where Lee takes a control and kicks ass despite his ocular injury. Nice.

Shit, it's late, but Anthony's finally done with FX work. Rob (Combat Mech) has been sitting idle in the Greenroom the whole day, but we're finally ready for him. I worry about how the actors feel when they show up and wait around in costume for the whole day only to not be used at all or for a short amount of time. If I had planned out the entire week ahead of time, maybe that'd be avoidable. Well, that's not exactly accurate, I note, cuz I have been trying to make use of who can show up on which day. Alright, alright stop arguing with myself I tell myself! I'm going insane I think. I give myself the middle finger and force myself to concentrate to focus.

It's 5:30pm and the people that have wrapped for the day have all gone home. So Rob, Joe, and Anthony, the GornFX guys, Patryk, and I rush over to do Anthony's/Chavez's death scene. It's when the Mech pulls off Chavez's arm and beats him to death with it. GornFX has rigged the fake arm and make a fake arm socket on Anthony's real shoulder. To make the effect look convincing, Anthony has to lead the motion of the arm tearing off and Rob has to follow that motion as if he's the one tearing it. We go through the motions for timing and performance and then do a couple of takes. It looks really gruesome!! We do a couple different angles and then wrap for the night. Anthony is wrapped for the film. I thank him and congratulate him. His performance of Chavez was amazing. Anthony says he'll be back tomorrow anyway since his girlfriend Ashley still has shots. He says he'll help crew. Anthony rocks.

After driving everyone home, watching dailies, and eating, I barely have time to do the shot list before crashing. Right before I crash I realize Einar, my Diplomat, is going to be on set tomorrow and I don't have a costume for him!! I had been planning to go get a cheap suit for him at the Salvation Army or something, but I always got stuck with that plan cuz he's supposed to be an expensive, pampered Diplomat! How could he wear a cheap suit! In my exhaustion I convince myself that I can just bring my own best suit from my wardrobe for him to wear. Before my brain can say, "What about all those nasty blood and guts effects on Saturday?" my body falls instantly to sleep.

Who Am I and why in the world... i doing this?? I ask myself this all the freaking time but the conclusion is always the same- I don't know why, all I know is that I just must, must, must make this film...

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